Spawnslicer Seas

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I really enjoy when I get to spend an entire article talking about a single card as a case study. I find it fun to break down every single aspect of a card, dissect the possible reasons and explanations behind shifts in price, and use that card as a textbook example for future buyouts, price spikes, or other shifts. My two other written examples of this in the recent past were on Spawnsire of Ulamog and Mindslicer, which were both interesting examples of phenomena in the Magic finance ecosystem with trends that were supposed to be easily predictable.

While Spawnsire was alleged to be a purely speculator-driven buyout, the levels of consistent demand that the card has shown since proved its true worth as a casual stalwart in 60-card kitchen table Eldrazi lists that were juiced up by the introduction of Battle for Zendikar. Now that a large number of those players have already picked up their Spawnsires for their non-competitive decks, we can see the demand for the card recede; Oath of the Gatewatch wasn’t nearly as exciting for Spawny.


Mindslicer has not been as resilient to decline, but it’s certainly surprised me that the card has not dropped to dollar-rare status after the past two weeks. While none of us will ever know exactly how much money the mystery person made by buying out all of the internet of this stupid 4/3, we’ve already seen the price drop to a more rational level.


It’s down 50 percent from the $10 that it was hanging at when I dedicated a week to discussing the buyout, and it seems to have settled for the most part. While I’m sure some of you are preparing to shout, “But DJ! The Master Buyoutmancer was able to maintain the price of Mindslicer at a level over 1000 percent higher than what it started at! You said that these evil people can’t make cards jump by ridiculous percentages and stay at those prices without actual demand.”

That’s right, I did say that. The key here is that we’ve finally reached a point in the race to the bottom where other stores are willing to partake in the transactions, and feel safe enough about selling Mindslicers at the new price that they’re putting the card on their buylists.

buylist price

ABUGames (excellent buylist) and StrikeZone Online (eh…) are both willing to take your copies of Mindslicer off your hands, and pay you actual cash dollars due to their confidence that they can resell these copies at the new established price point. While everyone’s  initial reaction (including my own) to the Mindslicer buyout was that it was going to fail, crash, and burn back down to bulk, the individual(s) who made the decision to purchase all of the available copies was confident enough that a new price would be somewhat sustainable. Instead of the good old Aluren example where the card was bought out and then forced back down to its original value due to no true demand, Mindslicer has proven against the odds that it has legitimate demand from stores and players alike.


Washed Off Topic

Wait, where was I? Oh, right. I was going to try and write another article about a card in which I’m fairly confident in preparation for the Modern Pro Tour (yes, the same Pro Tour that I said I couldn’t care less about on the latest episode of Cartel Aristocrats). Before I go any further, I’m going to make a tiny, tiny disclaimer. Yes, I own roughly 60 copies of this card. Yes, I recognize that my writing about this card has the potential to act as a catalyst, speeding up the process at which players purchase their copies in a race to lock in their sets before risking supply running too low. For the umpteenth time, I link you to Derek Madlem’s well-written article about The Observer Effect.

However… I believe that the Pro Tour and those watching coverage will have a much stronger impact on the price and demand of a card than my content creation here at MTGPrice does. Due to the fact that my article comes out on Thursday, February 4, and the Pro Tour starts on the 5th, you should have plenty of time to buy non-foils of this card if you need them for future Modern endeavors.  I would hope that sellers on TCGplayer don’t cancel orders for a card that’s this cheap with such a low expected price jump, but you never know.




By the time this article goes live, it will probably be too late to buy foil copies of Spreading Seas. There are zero on eBay below $15, and the ones that are $15 are being shipped all the way from Europe. TCGplayer has a whopping two foils as of February 2, and they were both probably fished out of a toilet.


The only online vendor that I can personally find with any reasonable number of copies left is SCG, with twenty MP ones at $7.88 each (disclaimer on the disclaimer: I bought ten SP foils tonight at $8.99 each). For those of you who have been holding onto foil copies in anticipation of a future spike, I suggest selling into any Pro Tour hype you see, and trying to get around $20 for a solid double-up.


As for the non-foils, there are still at least 500 copies on TCGplayer alone, and another 100 on SCG. That should prevent any immediate “oh my god, Spreading Seas is a $5 common, the world is ending” tweets. I highly doubt that happens. Don’t buy a ton of Spreading Seas at $2 each expecting to make a billion dollars, because you won’t. If you happen to own some non-foils, I would wait and see what the Pro Tour does to the card. If Merfolk pounds some faces in or an alternate controlling shell shows up housing Seas, then we could be in for a nice little bump, mimicing the trends of Slippery Bogle and Wild Nacatl (speaking of Nacatl, Spreading Seas does an excellent job of making sure that cat stays wet, in addition to washing away the manabases of Tron and Eldrazi).



If Seas shows even a drop of on-camera play this weekend, we could certainly see a bump up to $3 to $4 on non-foils in the short term.

So what are your other spec targets for the Pro Tour? While I’ll unfortunately be too busy to watch coverage of the event, our own James Chillcott will be providing up to date text coverage to make sure you don’t miss any potential new decks or cards seeing play.

Until next week! By then, I’ll be on my way to Georgia, but I should still have an article up on that day to keep you busy.

End Step

  • Laboratory Maniac is four times more expensive than you thought he was. “Oh, that card is a silly little dollar rare. It can’t possibly affect me.” WRONG. Card is four freaking American dollars, courtesy of the non-competitive market. Excuse me while I run to the store and pull a dozen of these out of my dollar box before it’s too late.
  • Ad Nauseam is finally starting to perk up from its’ bottom of $2 to $3. If you need these or Phyrexian Unlifes, buy them now. The deck can be very hard to interact with, considering it draws its entire deck for answers to kill the Leyline of Sanctity that you put down.

39 thoughts on “Spawnslicer Seas”

  1. “While Spawnsire was alleged to be a purely speculator-driven buyout”, this was literally you. You literally posted about pushing a buyout on this card. “Alleged” my foot.

    1. You people are the reason magic is so expensive. With your “Finance shit” hey make money, buyouts ect. Invest in something real and let us afford our cards u prick. that and people like open boosters are the reason eternal formats cost an arm and a leg, you are killing magic and its availability single handedly. You peole are disgusting. You are the midslicer buyer, “alleged” your grosse.

      1. Why do you people still think the finance writers are at fault?? Almost everybody thought, Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy was NOT good and then it spiked to 50+$. How do you explain that in your simple-mindedness which only allows you to blame others for your lack of understanding the secondary market? If ONE person can cause a buy-out, those who really need the card should already have them or just wait until it is “affordable” again. And seriously, if you hate the financers that much, why are you reading this?

      2. Look at the spelling and grammar of the people blaming writers for buyouts and you have your answer.

      3. Vicious, my friend.

        People disseminating perfect information about prices are certainly part of the machine that makes sure cards much more rapidly rise to the maximum they could be.

        If you enjoyed being able to buy cards for cheap because information was not perfect and stores did not know how much players were willing to pay, this is a bad thing.

        If you want supply and demand to match exactly, probably because you are making money when it does, then this is a good thing.

        (Disclaimer: I fall into the former camp.)

        It’s not good or bad, but it is inevitable. Information is perfect nowadays and we can’t put the genie back in the bottle. The best you can do is listen carefully to the finance buzz and make sure you’re ahead of the herd mentality if you want to play the game. This is no fun if you don’t like the finance side, but, there’s literally nothing you can do about it.

      4. So what you basically say, is “the information finance writers provide is bad, because everybody has access to them and I lose my edge over them”… Well, I am not concerned to make a fortune, but I try to keep cost and gain balanced. And to achieve this, I make my own calls. I don’t buy in on just any card and that’s not the goal of the finance writers. They actually EXPLAIN their reasoning and THIS is what truly helps.
        For all the casual players: you can either use proxies in your play group or create a cheap deck for FNM. There are always budget options…

      5. Bahahaaa!!! Love peoples reactions. DJ, your articles are fantastic, you’re my favorite author on the site. Keep doing your thing brother!

  2. DJ, the first part of the article is just dripping with confirmation bias. After your last article I thought maybe you were going to try to look at this objectively. The second paragraph is particularly troubling. You are creating a narrative that fits your belief that Spawnsire was more “legitimate” than Mindslicer although there is really nothing compelling to back that up.

  3. You wrote extensively about the spawnsire speculation, but you haven’t updated your progress on how much you sold or any profits (or lack thereof). Anything of note?

    1. I did write about that, it was my second Spawnsire article. I can write more about that if you want, but the short version is that I still have about 20 copies left listed on TCGplayer at $6 each. I sell one every now and again, probably one a week or so.

  4. What I can’t put together is why someone would read content on a Magic FINANCE website and then troll the authors about Magic FINANCE. That’s like paying for a ticket to a baseball game and then holding up an “I hate baseball” sign when you get there. The argument about whether speculators control the market is not even the issue here. (They don’t.) The issue here is that some people just enjoy being negative. If you want to play magic on a budget, play magic on a budget. You can literally play magic for free. LITERALLY. If you want to participate in an economy of COLLECTIBLES, then pay attention to #MTGFINANCE. If you want to win the ProTour, then recognize that the “Pro” in ProTour stands for PROfessional. If you are whining about the cost of Magic, you are obviously not engrossed in the profession enough to understand the MTG environment as a complex multi-layered environment.

    1. Not to defunct anything you said. Just want to point out the pro in pro tour actually stands for promotion.

    2. Let’s be fair here. If you’re upset with someone who is doing X, then it makes sense to go to the X factory if you want to express your disapproval.

  5. Douglas,
    Once again a good article. I hope people keep cursing you and the rest of the mtg fiance community and never wise up and actually follow your advise.

  6. My goodness, what a fiery comment section for an article that shows Doug is trying to be more transparent. It’s easy from the readers view to see the effect of an article or opinion on the masses, but the author has no such luxury. He, like any other writer on here, just wanted to talk about his adventures in MTG finance. It’s not obvious how effective something is until after it’s already done the damage, so now Doug knows to give a disclaimer and to let everyone make their own decisions. ‘zeroflame’ and ‘TBoner’, this is a direct response to you, as I hope you can understand the situation better.

    1. Thanks Connor! I actually always put a disclaimer in my writing, saying “I really don’t think this is a good buy if you’re looking to make a profit”, but people seem to skim over that part.

    2. My comment was soley in response to his misrepresentation of the spawnsire buyout, which he has since actually written on talking about how it was essentially just him. All that other flaming didn’t come from me.

  7. Douglas had clearly devised a cunning plan to make a fortune from a salt mining in this very comment section.

  8. Bla Bla, these comments. As for the Pro Tour I’ve got my eye on Aether Vial!!!

    In my mind its only a matter of time before a Death and Taxes style Modern list solidifies itself. Merfolk and some other decks are using Aether Vial already. If Death and Taxes, white weenie, or any other varient get any more popular than they already are… Aether Vial and some other cards could see some increased demand.

    With all the hype around Ghost Quarter and Land Destruction in Modern right now, its the perfect time for Aether Vial to break out. Add in Some Leonin Arbiters and whatnot and those ghost quarters become A LOT better. I truly hope a couple T2 or rogue style decks make the jump to T1 now that the format has been shaken up.

    I’m also super curious to see if the newly released Reflector Mage makes it into any lists and I’ve also got my eye on Vryn Wingmare. I’m not expecting huge numbers… But in the right deck these cards could be playable in Modern. Both are under $1 right now so even a hint of Modern camera time would most likely cause a double up.

    To be honest… I just want to see something NEW from the pro-tour. But it would be cool if one of my pet decks showed up! I always get excited when a Standard card makes it to Modern too. Its like a graduation moment or something… Awe, the Standard card is all grown up and is ready to get bolted with the big boys.

    1. Looks like you (kind of) got your wish! A couple of new UR Eldrazi decks running some very interesting card choices are making a solid run at Day 1. Standard bulk rares and uncommons fighting off against Goyfs and fetches.

  9. I don’t like paying inflated prices for things either, especially being a casual player. You know the best way to get cards you want? Buying them out right or getting stuff with which to trade for them. Want to know a good way to fund your magic hobby? Use it to pay for itself, mostly, by doing a little finance work. This site, and this author in particular, offer great insight in how to accomplish this. This site isn’t for making a living being a used cardboard salesman. It’s about hedging your cost to play.

    Keep on doing you, DJ. Just like Cam Newton and the Panthers this Sunday!

    1. I’m not a sports fan, so your reference is lost on me I’m afraid ^_^’ I appreciate the kind words, Korias! I’m glad that I can help you more easily afford Magic. It’s great that you see the site for what it’s meant to be.

  10. WUBRG, I hope you are right about Vial. I got in a year or so ago and picked up a bunch of foils because it was like a 1.5x multiplier thanks to the TV printing, not even 2x and I thought that was insane. Turned out to be one of my better investments. Either way Vials time will come again my friend. Vial is also a great answer to Blood Moon; eventually someone will top 8 with 3 Vials in the board to answer Blood Moon. I’ve been very high on Reflector Mage pre-release, the foil seems too high now at $10, and Vryn Wingmare foils seem like smart buys if they are still $5-7…it typically gets the 4 of treatment and I’ve seen lists cut Thalia to 3 thanks to the Wingmare’s printing and the Legend limitations.

  11. For all the super angry commentors, if you are mad at DJ it’s NOT an example of “what is wrong with Magic Finance” it’s an example of what IS Magic Finance. For a lot of older cards it doesn’t take a lot of money to force a spike on Modern/Legacy playable FOIL cards. Nor does it take a lot to buy out many of the older casual/EDH cards. Nobody NEEDS Foil Spreading Seas to play a deck, nobody NEEDS Foil Blighted Agents for Infect; these are LUXURY items! There’s always easy ways to swing supply for a LUXURY item in the world and in Magic. I missed out buying up Foil Inkmoth Nexuses (we all probably did)… Maybe 6 months ago you could get a foil playset for $120, or $160 at worst. Now before the PT you can’t get 2 NM Foil Inkmoths for $160. I don’t think there was a buy out on the card, and if there was DJ and the writers here didn’t need to tell people about it cause it was going to happen anyways. Doesn’t take a genius to see that a card that appears in a Tier 1 Legacy deck and 2 Tier 1 Modern decks was going to have a spike in the foil price.

    If DJ promoted and caused a buyout I applaud him, for one person to swing a market that 1,000s participate in would be quite amazing. But there is always risk and reward to any investing…I had a friend lose a ton of money on oil in the past few months, he kept saying “we all need oil, it’ll go back up”. Magic finance is risky investing; I had foil Prophet of Kruphix that I traded for as an investment target, now it’s basically worthless.

    If Wizards prints a Colorless Commander Set how likely is Spawnsire to be in that?? All you haters would love to see DJ take a loss if he still has product to move. It’s all a risk, don’t be angry about it, learn how it can happen and plan your Magic deck building around it.

    If you play Magic determine what is important to you. I have friends who ONLY play limited. They sell their cards as soon as they are done a draft or sealed event. They have no interest in Standard, Modern, EDH etc. Others ONLY play Standard and try to trade into Modern. Others ONLY play Legacy and Vintage but draft for fun…Find what works for you. If you are only reading the articles on this site to invest I don’t see how you could possibly be mad. 90% of the stuff I’ve read provides insight as to why and how the writers choose to invest in Magic cards.

    Card X reads: Cost-10 Mana of any type. Tap Mana to make tokens that produce more Colorless mana. Spend a ton of mana to put ANY Colorless card into play. New Standard block: 2 sets with lots of Colorless cards, likely popular Eldrazi will be re-released. Conclusion: Card X looks like a very good card to buy because of casual and EDH demand.

    From what I can tell this is what DJ did. If this was his article and his belief why would he NOT follow his own advice and buy a bunch of the card?? You know what else, there’s not a ton of people that need the card for casual decks and certainly not competitive decks. DJ do u man, I’m sure the hate here won’t slow you down. Angry people, if you NEEDED a Spawnsire of Ulamog, it costs you $5 more now that it did several months ago, not $4000. It’s part of OPPORTUNITY COSTS. It’s not like he’s gone out with $10mill and tried to buy every Lotus to destroy Vintage.

    1. The whole “Luxury item” argument is just as insulting to the anti-finance crowd as the “Greedy speculator” argument is to the finance crowd. I get that Spencer here is using the term “Luxury” to refer to premium versions of cards, but often you see that term or its relations being used to describe ANY expensive card. For example, on Brainstorm Brewery, the finance folks occasionally whine that players feel “entitled” and should not because not everyone gets to play all the Magic decks.

      The point is that people want to play Magic, and it’s not inherently obvious why these little pieces of printed paper should be worth as much as they are. The prize payout doesn’t justify the investment. No one who is annoyed at high prices is going to react well to being told they’re wrong because they feel “entitled.” Similarly, no finance person is going to react well to being told they’re “greedy.”

      Fact is, both sides of the coin are arguing for their own self-interest. Players do not see any inherent value in stores working hard to charge them the maximum the market will bear. Fundamentally, they want a slower market and less free information. Finance folks want to make money, and they ascribe a positive value to balancing supply and demand exactly because they make money.

      The “good” and the “bad” on this issue depends on your stakes, but at the end of the day, the finance folks have designed a well-oiled machine and we live in their world, now. Adapt, or die. Criticizing the system is well and good, but it won’t stop anyone.

      1. Another thought: I think the finance crowd needs to wrap their minds around the concept that balancing supply and demand is not OBVIOUSLY a good thing, the way I’ve heard them talk about. That is, saying, “This is a good price because people are paying it,” is not obviously true.

        It’s not fair to dismiss, out of hand, the argument that there might be value to a community if stores did NOT sell goods for the maximum they possibly could. It’s an alien concept to American capitalism, and there are of course free rider and prisoner’s dilemma-type problems that might make this not a feasible solution, but it’s really not fair to simply say “supply and demand balance, so the conversation is done” as a knee-jerk to every criticism on prices.

  12. MaxCDawg, I think I agree with you 🙂 I don’t listen to the Brainstorm Brewery podcast because it’s too long winded for me so I’m not sure what they call a luxury item nor your “entitled player” comment. But basic definition of a luxury item is a non-essential item, it tends to be expensive and tends to provide enjoyment. Magic is a Luxury game, you don’t NEED Magic in your life to survive. You need food (but not four star dining), water (but not sparkling or bottled), clothes (but not Gucci or Armani), etc…(u seem to already understand this). So when I say Luxury Item in regards to Magic I personally am speaking of foil Standard, Modern, Legacy, and EDH cards.

    If you can explain the “entitled player” concept I would like to hear it. I am a player and investor, I appreciate the writers trying to explain to people how to play for free even if I don’t get much out of it at this point. Sigmund was one of my fav to bounce ideas off of. At this point in my Magic life I want to play competitive decks for as little new investment as possible, meaning I want to trade and trade intelligently to save money. I want to save my money for some of the “penny stocks” or long term investments I see (like Dual lands to play Legacy and Foil Harbinger of the Tides as a spec)

    There’s 2 things I would like to state: Magic costs way too much freakin money to play, even casually, but especially at a competitive level!! And I posted on Jim’s article, it’s nearly impossible to WIN back what you invest in a deck. It is a Luxury game in that it is completely non-essential to life. even though PS4 and Xbox are expensive in the long run they are probably cheaper types of entertainment. I can NOT change this fact, I was super pissed spending $80 for a playset of Stormbreaths a few days after the release but I have learned how the MTG market works and I try to use it to my advantage now.

    Secondly: The best place to find supply and demand is Ebay…look at BIN and auction prices, they are typically 10-25% less than what this site reports and what stores sell them at. Stores sell Expeditions at absurd prices, but go to Ebay and see what supply and demand is actually saying. Same with every card for every game. That’s the best free market representative of the value of Magic cards. Stores need to make a profit to survive, so that’s not going to be the best place for people to make money or save money on cards. They typically will charge as much as they can for a card, if their bottom line is suffering then they have a sale or they mark cards down.

    From what I understand there is a Magic game where cards have nearly 0 value and you can afford any deck, I believe it’s called Yugioh (or it’s Pokemon). In one of those they reprint $100 cards so everyone can have them. I think the people who are so angry about paying so much for Magic cards should try those games. There are other hobbies people can choose to play, Magic is an expensive one. It mostly sucks, like I will never own a Vintage deck and if I didn’t have a job I wouldn’t be able to afford Legacy, but the people who flip out about buy outs and accuse individuals of causing market spikes just need to chill. 90% of the cards that spike it’s due to supply and demand. Glimmervoid, Arcbound Ravager, Inkmoth Nexus, Jace, Coco, these are all going up for certain reasons; mostly because Demand is outrunning supply. Abrupt Decay keeps going down from a high of $20 and it’s a great card, one of the best ever. 10% of price spikes might be purely due to a buyout, and the people that flip out just need to understand that it’s the minority of card spikes. I probably shouldn’t care, I just hate to see people get so incredibly angry for any reason and blame others for things that aren’t their fault.

    DJ didn’t cause people to not be able to play Modern, he didn’t cause Gideon to cost between $30-40 on release…no individual did any of that. Me selling 20 Abrupt Decays didn’t cause it to drop $5, probably 100s of players selling Decays caused it to drop, and 1000s or 10,000s of players caused Gideon to achieve his price. People just need to learn how the Magic market works…you seem to get it CDawg, others should learn and not react so viciously.

  13. “If you can explain the “entitled player” concept I would like to hear it. ”

    Sure. From what I understand, it’s the sentiment, often expressed by those in the finance community, that anyone complaining about the price of Magic is “wrong” — in some MORAL sense of the word. That is, it goes beyond simply telling people that yes, Magic is expensive and yes, that’s a reality with consequences. It functions as a moral counter-attack to players accusing speculators of gouging them.

    The argument, as I’ve heard it, goes similar to yours:

    “Player, you don’t need to play Modern. It’s a leisure activity. You just WANT to. The fact that you cannot play it without spending $2,000.00 is not my problem, just like the fact that you can’t afford an in-ground swimming pool is not my problem. That’s how much it costs because I there are enough people willing to pay that much to play. You’re just whining and claiming to be entitled to something you are not, so you should stop complaining.”

    Without taking sides, I do think that this argument makes a mistake when it equates the REALITY of the cost of Magic with any kind of MORAL judgment about it.

    That’s where the “you’re just entitled” kicks in. It’s not so much that fiance folks tell players that they have to live in reality, but that they tell them (often not in so many words) that the opinion that Magic is too expensive is morally wrong. Trying to re-establish the moral high ground, you know?

    I think a better response from a financeer is something like this:

    “Magic is more expensive than it used to be, and perhaps that diminishes your ability to play the game. But, the reality is that everyone who sells cards (even other players!) is reacting to the same incentive to sell for as much value as they can. Nothing you, I, or anyone else can do will stop that. (Unbridled mass reprinting threatens the future of the game, see Baseball Cards in the 80s and Chronicles.) As long as enough players (perhaps not you) are willing to pay a price, it is inevitable that prices will eventually reach that price. Right or wrong, your best bet is to learn more about the finance side of Magic and use that to help navigate the new reality.”

  14. PS: The “entitlement” criticism also includes the sentiment that people who don’t like Magic prices should go play something else. Surely, you can see how someone who loves this game and its community would see that as a hostile response?

    “Magic is too expensive.”
    “You think so? Get the $@#! out, then, and play a crappier game.”

  15. Thanks CDawg for your response. I’m kind of in the middle but I guess more on the “side” of the financier because I took business in college and I understand the business aspects of Magic. I do wonder if the “cost of Magic is more expensive these days” takes into account inflation and minimum wage increases. That’s probably beyond the scope of one of these articles, but I would like know how much a Mythic Planeswalker from a decade ago would be be “valued” today based on inflation. Had gas prices not gone back down from $3+ a gallon nationwide then I’d think that a $600 deck today would have the same “value” as a $200 deck a decade ago when gas was $1.00.

    I do feel badly for young players as the cost of entry is prohibitive. I try to teach them how to trade and how to value cards at FNMs (which I’m going to do in a moment). If I was 10-17 I wouldn’t play Magic, I simply couldn’t afford to. I understand everyone wants to be able to play every card and every deck they want, and maybe this proves your point but that’s simply not possible in Magic. There has to be financial value behind the cards or you get DC Deckbuilder or Yugioh, super fun games that have a less prohibitive cost.

    Well I hope you and everyone else have a good weekend. For those going to SCG Regionals good luck!

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